Editor's Note: Chuck Clegg provided us with this story from his archives; thus, you might recognize it from several years ago. It's a two-parter, so next week will include the conclusion of the story. Enjoy.
This story is about a man who is in his sixties and feeling the pains of age. Due to national security concerns, his true identity cannot be revealed in this story. Also, parts of this story have been fictionalized to dramatically enhance its content, but it was still pretty good before I did that.
We will call him Charlie. He could be you or me, if you are in your upper sixties. He just does not have the same spark he use to have. He realized it was time to visit his doctor to make sure his lack of energy was not a medical problem.
Charlie told his wife of his plans to get a check-up. After listening patiently, she says to him, "You realize he is going to tell you the fact you are getting older and out of shape. Then he will charge you $100 for the diagnosis. There... I just saved you the money he will charge."
The day of the appointment arrived and Charlie sat patiently in the doctor's office. While he waited, he began looking at magazines. One magazine in particular intrigued him. It had on the front cover, "Bicycle Your Way To Fitness In Your Sixties."
About that time the nurse called Charlie's name, summoning him to the examining room. He sat on the edge of the table as the nurse asked the normal pre-examination questions before the doctor came in. Blood pressure, pulse and temperature were all taken and recorded on his chart. She smiled and said, "The doctor will be in to see you in a moment."
Charlie sat there, dangling his feet as he looked at the charts on the walls of the small room. The charts had illustrated pictures of our body parts that we never see - heart, lungs, circulation and reproductive.
As Charlie was studying the reproductive pictures, the door opened and the doctor says, "What do you think is wrong with you?"
Charlie was a bit confused by the doctor's question and said, "If I knew that I would not need to pay you." The doctor laughed and began his examination.
After completing the check-up and writing in the chart for what seemed a long time, the doctor said, "Let's get you a stress test." Without any future explanation, the doctor was out the door. A couple of minutes later the nurse returned with instructions for his stress test.
A treadmill stress test is not difficult to get ready for. Tennis shoes and some lose fitting clothing - along with a positive attitude - will make it a little easier.
The first thing they do the day of the test is to stick patches at several different locations on your upper body. Next, they ask you to step onto the treadmill. The person giving the test starts with a tangle of wires, attaching them to the patches that she had placed around your chest.
The test administrator explained to Charlie how the test works. She pointed to a chart on the wall in front of him. The chart showed levels of difficulty Charlie may experience during the test. The levels range from one to 10. Each level indicates increased difficulty he may experience as the test progresses.
As the test began, Charlie had no problem with the pace of the machine's speed or difficulty. Then the young lady asked, "What is your level of discomfort?" He quickly replies, "One, maybe two."
Now, the pace picked up as the speed and the elevation changes. Once again the young lady asked, "Discomfort level now?" Charlie looked at the numbers on the chart, as if he had forgotten them and tried to fit a number with discomfort. "Four" was his response as he began to sweat and breathed a little harder.
As the test entered the next level, the sound of the treadmill began to resemble a jet engine. "Level of discomfort" she once again asked. In between breaths Charlie blurted out, "five."
The young lady running the torture device informed Charlie that level five was about to begin and he should prepare himself. All he could hear in his mind was the sound of his feet slapping the speeding mat and his heavy breathing.
"Please describe your level of difficulty."
Charlie looked at the chart to see if one of them said "If you are about to step on your tongue and fall down, that is a level nine." He also noticed the young lady was now asking "please" when she asked his level of difficulty.
With that number given to the young lady, the treadmill began to slow and come to a stop. Charlie knew he was out of shape, overweight and feeling a little older.
A few days later, Charlie returned to the doctor's office for the results of the test. As he waited, he found the magazine with the article telling of returning to good health by bicycling. He was halfway through the article when he was summoned to the doctor's examining room. Charlie once again resumed his position on the edge of the paper covered table. He returned to examining the body's internal organs on the wall charts.
Again the door opened and the doctor with a chart in his hand said, "Well your test looks good." Charlie paused for a moment and then asked," Why am I always tired and have no energy." The doctor looked at Charlie and pointed toward his middle section. "Forty pounds too much here and lack of exercise, plus your age."
Well, there he had it... Old, fat, and lack of exercise. His wife was right on the money, and her advice was free.
Before the doctor could leave, Charlie asked if bicycling was a good way to get into shape.
"Yes, as long as you do it in moderation and use common sense in riding." With that, the doctor was gone from the room.
Upon returning home Charlie's wife asked, "What did he tell you?"
With a little humility and some courage, Charlie explained to his smiling wife the fact she was once again correct, and she did not charge $100 for her advice.
To be continued...